1. Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge
Known for service with a smile—and sometimes a sugary-sweet drag-queen smirk—this suburban spot offers a menu that goes beyond pub grub (mini filet mignon sandwiches, $16). Bottle service starts at $150. 728 Lake St., Oak Park; velvetropeultralounge.com

2. Inn Exile
Not far from Midway, this club could be called the Sidetrack of the South Side. Like Boystown’s grande dame, it’s a video bar with a 10-foot screen above the dance floor playing Top 40 and country hits. 5758 W. 65th St.; innexilechicago.com

3. Chances Dances
This roving outfit welcomes all to its popular LGBTQ dance parties—“full of young hipsters drinking PBR and dancing to Beyoncé,” according to one recent attendee—that hop between Subterranean (2011 W. North Ave.), Danny’s (1959 W. Dickens Ave.), and the Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia Ave.). chancesdances.org

4. Temptations Nightclub
The self-described “hottest suburban nightclub with a downtown feel,” a mostly lesbian destination in Franklin Park, offers one amenity that’s distinctly un-Loop-like: plenty of free parking. DJs spin Wednesday through Sunday. 10235 W. Grand Ave., Franklin Park; temptationsnightclub.net

5. Hunter’s Dance Club
The name says it all: This place is cruise central, shirtless-style. One city dweller who has visited calls it “delightfully suburban”: “The dance floor is huge. It’s kind of like being in your high school gym.” 1932 E. Higgins Rd., Elk Grove Village; huntersnightclubs.com


Photograph: Leon Andrew Hensley/ASL Media